By Marc Astley

My last blog was about a genuine and heartfelt gesture which was, actually, a great PR exercise.

In a nutshell, the staff at a Premier Inn I stayed at had left a bottle of de-icer and some scrapers on a table for guests to use for free in the cold snap.

It was thoughtful, effective and incredibly cheap.

Today’s blog is about an in initiative that would have cost of thousands of pounds but got my back up!

Marketing campaign example for a car ad

Just a few days ago I was sent a glossy invitation by a car dealership telling me that I ‘had been selected by the management’ to a special event.

I and just a handful of other customers were among the chosen ones who would qualify for ‘extra support’ in choosing an 18 plate car.

The posted invitation was followed up with several emails assuring me of my newly-elevated status.

But, unlike the de-icer idea, this stank… for the following seven reasons:

1) The terminology… ‘selected by the management’. This is 2018, not 1918. I wasn’t in the slightest bit impressed that the suits wanted any truck with me and am baffled that a marketing team living in the real world would have thought such language relevant.

2) The morality… Here I was being offered ‘extra support’. But were they really admitting to offering a two-tier service? Aren’t all customers deserving of as much ‘support’ as they need? Why should I get more support than the next person (unless this was, in fact, an insincere marketing ploy)? Perish the thought!

3) The lack of imagination… the invitation simply said extra cash had been put aside to help me get a better deal than you. Nothing about the values of the company, the story I was buying into, or why I should care about the brand. In terms of marketing messages, it was as subtle as a wholesale butcher’s pitch at a car boot sale.

4) The appalling use of capital letters… I have decided not to name the company and so I can’t show you a screenshot but I was genuinely appalled at the grammatical thuggery.

5) The old school approach… I’m not a hip young thing but the whole exercise was insulting, from the excruciating ‘invite’, (invitation… please) to the unwelcome and regular emails reminding me of this ‘limited time only’ event.

6) The fact that this wasn’t a ‘limited time only event’ … The offer was, of course, ‘extended’. In fairness they blamed the snow but in my mind an exclusive, limited time only event should be just that…

7) I am not worthy… I have not been a client of this car manufacturer for more than three years. Now, I understand they might be trying to woo me back but surely all of this exclusive, limited and ‘special’ treatment should be reserved for those customers who have been loyal to the brand and are its advocates?

Failed marketing campaign summary

In summary, it was all very Upstairs Downstairs (if you are not old enough to remember the TV series, google it) !

Give me the use of a £2 bottle of de-icer and a scraper, any time!